Hawai'i A-Z

After returning from trips, I like to summarize the places I've been in an A-Z fashion. Since I just got back from a 9-day vacation in Hawai'i, here is my A-Z summary for all of the islands we visited including O'ahu, Maui, Moloka'i, and Lanai.

A - airlines/airports

This was only my second time making a connection in my life. It was my first time at LAX and MSP, and I loved seeing the Grand Canyon and the Rocky Mountains on my way to California. Seriously, I haven't seen anything more spectacular from the sky … ever before.

Then, at touch down, at 10 PM that Saturday night, we entered the cutest, smallest airport I had ever been in (up until that point). That was only one of the first of our "tiny airport" experiences. Especially considering we would later get to walk onto the tarmac photographing planes as the sun rose behind them. (Obviously, that wasn't the sole purpose, but a fun perk nonetheless!)

B - Banzai Pipeline

Located on the north shore of O'ahu, the Banzai Pipeline with its humongous waves was my absolute favorite beach to explore. We found it the Saturday night before we were set to leave Hawai'i. Bag of pineapple and my camera in hand, we found a spot to sit and watch surfers as the sun went down. As tired as we were, we could have sat there all night, but alas, light rain moved in and we moved out.

C - chocolate macadamia nuts from Hawaiian Host

Who knew these were so hard to get? Turns out Hawaiian Host only sells their chocolate macadamia nuts in Hawai'i, California, and New York. And our only experience trying them was as we were in the HNL airport headed home. We bought a few boxes as souvenirs to share with family. Turns out, macadamia nuts are yummy! And chocolate covered? Even better!

They also have variations that include caramel and Kona coffee caramel. You can't go wrong no matter which you choose!

D - The Descendants

Featuring George Clooney and Shailene Woodley, I didn't know what I was in store for as I selected this movie on my return flight to the mainland. (Can you ever really go wrong with George Clooney?) Well, as it turns out, this book turned movie was a delightful reminder of the beautiful islands I had just come from.

George Clooney, as Matt King, is a hard working real estate lawyer and the heir to mass amounts of land and fortune in Hawai'i. He's married and has two children; really, it is the set up for a perfect life. That is, until his wife gets injured during a boating accident. Now, the busy tycoon has to get to know his daughters. What he finds out is a surprise to all, except engineers, like my husband. *sigh* ;)

While we were on the plane, my husband noticed the sweeping views of Kaua'i, a prominently featured island in the movie. He asked "weren't we just there?" to which I had to tell him "no". :( Next time, maybe?

If you are looking to learn more about the Hawaiian culture, I think The Descendants is a great place to start. Obviously, I am not Hawaiian, but I noticed things about the movie that I would have questioned had I not been on a return trip from there. Like business meetings in flip flops and shorts?!

And, even if you aren't interested in the Hawaiian culture, I simply think The Descendants is just a fun movie. Drama + comedy. Why not? :)

E - "E Komo Mai" (or welcome/enter)

One of the things I loved most about the island was how welcoming the people were.

While on Moloka'i, Justin made a wrong turn. We ended up following the road into a neighborhood with a one-way street, practically running into a Hawaiian native who was driving the wrong way down that one-way street. She stuck her head out of her large Ford truck and said, "Where are you going?" We told her we were just turning around. She persisted, though. "Where are you going?" she asked a second time. We told her. She said, "follow me!" And we found ourselves driving the wrong way down the one-way street, making a few stops as she picked up her kids from school, and waving to her neighbors all while she led us to a tourist destination. Who would have thought a native would have cared about helping tourists?

This casual and friendly nature only continued when we arrived to one of the places we were staying. The owners had left the house entrance door ajar (easy access to food and a big screen tv!) and an envelope with our room key placed nearby. They obviously weren't worried about people breaking in and stealing their things; how refreshing is that! :)

Then, there was that time when we arrived at the Lanai airport an hour early and the only people there were a security guard and cleaning person. We did not get to our gate until 10 minutes before plane departure. And then we were encouraged to walk out onto the tarmac to board our plane! What?!?!

If I ever return, it will be because of the amazingly sweet and kind people and beautiful scenery rather than any amount of tourist attractions or souvenirs I could bring home. You don't find that welcoming nature just anywhere. :)

F - flip flops

You wear flip flops everywhere. And you take them off at the door of your residence. (Obviously not if you are staying at a large hotel.) It is the craziest thing.


How is this even the airport name for Maui? … Just how? :)

H - Honolulu

One of the most shocking experiences for my husband and I was traveling from Moloka'i to O'ahu. We went from seeing a max of 8,000 people on an island to approximately 100,000 in about 30 minutes. Instead of one lane back roads that led to secluded beaches, we were faced with crowds, hordes of tourists, filling the sidewalks seeking out expensive souvenirs and cheap (in style, not price) beachside entertainment. Instead of dark starlit nights and secluded roads, we found traffic, noise, and more city lights than we ever imagined could exist in Hawai'i.

However, what Honolulu lacked in secludedness, it provided in history. Our first day on O'ahu, we went to see the Pearl Harbor Memorial and learned more about the US entrance into World War II than we ever realized we didn't know. Following that, later in the afternoon, we immersed ourselves in old world Hawai'i run by King Kamehameha I all the way up through Queen Liliʻuokalani, the last monarch of the Hawaiian nation, during a visit to the 'Iolani Palace.

While I can't say that Honolulu was my favorite place to visit during my time in Hawai'i, I do feel like it was critical to my understanding of the place and would highly recommend a visit for any future Hawaiian tourists.

I - shaved ice

A Hawaiian treat best served on top of ice cream with condensed milk poured over it all (and mochi, if you are into that type of thing).

If you've ever had a New Orleans snoball, it's very similar to that. The biggest difference is that the shaved ice is smoother.

And, before you question it, there is a big difference between good shaved ice in Hawai'i and bad. In my opinion, it all has to do with the texture of the ice, what kind of ice cream was used (homemade is always best!), and syrup flavor. I recommend tropical flavored syrups with vanilla ice cream. (Of course, they usually have "customer favorites" or "recommended combinations" for you to try if you want something a little different.)

J - Japanese tourists

At this point, my husband and I have explored many different locations all over the world. In Europe, you are likely to see loads of Chinese tourists, New York City is filled with European guests, and Hawai'i seems to be most frequently explored by the Japanese.

No, I don't know why.

It probably has something to do with the proximity of Japan to Hawai'i.

One note on this, though, it's typically to the main city of Honolulu and the island of O'ahu. While we did see Japanese tourists on other islands in Hawai'i, we saw the largest numbers of Japanese in Honolulu, specifically.

Photo credit: miss karen via VisualHunt / CC BY
K - kālua pig

Cooked in an underground oven, kālua pig is pretty popular in Hawai'i. We ate some at a lūʻau, but you can find it all over the islands, especially at small roadside stands and mom and pop stores.

To borrow from Wikipedia:

Traditionally, a fire using 'Iliahi (sandalwood) is built in a dirt pit called the imu. The pit is usually about 6 feet (1.8 m) long, 4 feet (1.2 m) wide and 3 ft (90 cm) deep. Rocks are then placed in the pit to retain cooking heat long after the flames have burned down. Once the rocks have become extremely hot, the hole is lined with traditional vegetation, such as banana leaves. The meat to be cooked is salted, stuffed with more hot rocks, then wrapped with ti and banana leaves. To maintain even heating and to retain the meat's natural moisture, the meat is covered with wet burlap, then with a layer of sand or soil. The meat is then left to cook in the pit for six to seven hours, absorbing smoke and steam from the koa wood and banana leaves. When the meat is fully cooked, it is removed from the imu and shredded. This is done to allow the melted fat to mix with the meat to help maintain its uniform consistency and flavor.

L - lūʻau

While I'm certain you have heard of lūʻaus before, a lūʻau is a Hawaiian party often featuring hula dancers and kālua pig. Once again referencing Wikipedia,

the lūʻau name comes from that of a food often served at a luau; squid or chicken lūʻau, which consist of meat, lūʻau (or taro) leaves, and coconut milk. The main dish of the luau is Kālua pig. Another dish that is served is poi, made from the roots of taro. This feast was usually served on the floor; on the mats there were usually large centerpieces. In most cases the centerpieces were made of tī leaves. Utensils were never present during a luau; everything was eaten by hand.

Wikipedia also shares that the first lūʻau was under one of Hawai'i's oldest kings, King Kamehameha II in 1819 when he threw a party where women were invited and then proceeded to eat with them, a once taboo concept. From that point forward, men and women could eat together without scandal.

Hooray for equal rights! :)

M - Moloka'i

One of our favorite islands to visit, Moloka'i is known for being the "friendly isle", which we definitely found to be true. However, Moloka'i has a deep and troubled past beginning with their production of pineapples, which wasn't to be, and continuing on into the medical field as home, in the Kalaupapa Peninsula, to leprosy patients, often ripped from their families, lives and jobs to come live here.

While my husband and I have not yet visited the Kalaupapa Peninsula, the Moloka'i Museum and Cultural Center depicts it as a sad yet wonderful place for those who lived there. Obviously, it is absolutely heartbreaking to hear of families being torn apart, but to see how the community comes together in support of one another? That is truly beautiful. I love how Moloka'i chooses to remember the leaders of the settlement – as positive uplifters during a time of crises and family to all who needed them. :) Isn't that how we all would want to be remembered?

N - Nakalele Blowhole

Some of the most beautiful locations on Maui are also the most difficult places to access. For example: the road to Hana, the back road to Hana, and the northwest coast of Maui. One lane, dirt roads with cliffs on one side of you and mountains on the other.

My husband and I ventured to the Nakalele Blowhole our last morning on Maui shortly after sunrise. Originally the goal was to see the blowhole at sunrise, but when the driver ends up "motion sick" after a night of drinking, your plans change quickly. *sigh*

The Nakalele Blowhole exists as a place water is pushed up through a hole in the land, like what you see from a whale or dolphin. Of course, the current has to be just right for you to see this odd natural wonder, but when it is, it is fascinating to see. :)

A fun option for breakfast either before or after the Nakalele Blowhole is The Plantation House. My husband and I ordered a fruit platter with five different kinds of fruit, malasadas (Portuguese donuts – very similar to New Orleans stuffed beignets with a topping), and the classic eggs benedict. While the food was delicious (especially the fruit!), I think my favorite aspect of our breakfast was our view looking out over a golf course at the ocean. Yes, I can hear you swooning just thinking about it. :) Just get there early so that you can have prime seating!

O - Maui Ocean Center

We went for the aquarium, but fell in love with the food at their restaurant.

Seriously, when you've been to such aquariums as the Tennessee Aquarium, the Georgia Aquarium, or the South Carolina Aquarium, expectations are high. The Maui Ocean Center, while big and next to the ocean (two awesome benefits!), I just didn't fall in love with the Maui Ocean Center like I had the others. The aquarium glass was old, scratched, and hard to see through, the outdoors animals seemed to be hiding, and I didn't think that there were enough hands on opportunities for people to learn about the ocean – especially when you are as close to the ocean as the Maui Ocean Center is!

While I can't necessarily recommend a visit to the Maui Ocean Center, simply because there are better other things to do in Maui, if you decide to go, be sure to check websites like Groupon or Costco to get your tickets for cheaper. Because we purchased our tickets on Costco's website, we saved $10 a person, which is essentially enough for an entree or drink at a restaurant! And when you are visiting Hawai'i, every dollar saved makes a huge difference!

P - piña coladas

Having never tried piña coladas, I had been waiting since the fall to get my first taste. I knew that Justin and I had "free" drinks at our booked-well-in-advance lūʻau, so I was holding out with the goal of not wasting money on a drink I was certain I would hate.

Only I didn't.

Pineapple + coconut? Yum! :)

And, if you add strawberry, in Hawai'i, it becomes a Lava Flow.

There's no going back now!

Q - quiet

One of the best things about Hawai'i is how quiet it is in certain areas there.

Want to go out and see the stars? On a clear night, you actually have a chance!

The one night Justin and I stayed on the island of Lanai, we grabbed drinks and sat on the large front porch listening to the rain and wind in pitch black darkness just enjoying the silence. It reminded us a lot of southern nights in our home state. And honestly, aside from perhaps listening to the ocean from one's front porch at night, I can think of nothing more comforting or relaxing, especially when every moment up until that one is hectic and filled with activity.

R - Road to Hana

A long meandering road that at some points is one-way through the rainforest and along the coast of Maui is a great way to learn about the island. I cannot suggest you go your first day on Maui though. Wait until you are well-rested and as over jet lag as you can get. Then, once adjusted, awake early to get a head start. Grab a picnic breakfast, lunch, and snacks, fill up the car with gas, and go! Nothing can stop you now! :)

While I do recommend staying overnight in Hana (and perhaps departing from the Hana airport to another island if you would like?!), Justin and I did not do this. In fact, we didn't even drive through the town of Hana! And we do recommend either getting a guide or downloading a guide phone app. (Our guide canceled on us at the last minute, so we were grateful to have the phone app leading us along and directing us as to where to stop along the way.)

There is much to see on the road to Hana and you won't have time to see it all. I'd offer suggestions, but, really, even with my intense amount of research my husband and I were still just following along with the app we had downloaded, stopping where we thought we might enjoy stopping and passing up places we didn't know anything about.

The key to road to Hana is starting early in the day and just enjoying the drive.

The back road to Hana (and continuing around the island of Maui) is a lot of fun, but not for the meek. I was not driving, so it seemed easy enough to me, but my husband later informed me that the drive was much more difficult and daring that it initially looked to me. However, when you are driving with cliffs on one side of you (leading to the ocean) and mountains on the other at sunset, you don't even consider the danger you are facing! Plus, there is nothing like cows crossing the road in front of you. That's when you know you are in the backwoods.

(I'll have a more in depth post later on the topic.)

S - surfing

I've already mentioned this, but Banzai Pipeline has ginormous waves during the winter. They are beautiful to photograph, and, to someone with experience, I imagine great fun to surf. Just keep in mind that if you aren't a great surfer, you may want to stay away. Surfing in Hawai'i is not for the faint of heart or, in some places, the beginner. Be aware before you jump in.

T - turtles

A must-do on O'ahu is a visit to Turtle Beach. More often than not, you will be able to spot sea turtles and even learn about them from Hawaiian experts stationed there to protect them. Justin and I stopped for a bit to see, but we were on a tight schedule. Next time we find ourselves in O'ahu, we will be sure to spend more time at the beach learning as much as we can about this magnanimous sea critter.

U - unfazed

In a hurry? Well, forget it. In Hawai'i, you are on Hawaiian time. Relax, grab a cocktail, and listen to the ocean waves. Hawaiians are not going to be the least bit fazed by your anxiety to get back on the road.

V - vow renewal

Justin and I decided to check out the Old Lahaina Lūʻau while we were in Maui. We signed up and paid in October knowing that the first to pay often get the best seats, and that this particular lūʻau sells out early. When I paid, I had the option to leave comments with my request. The main comment I left on all reservations was that my husband and I were celebrating our 5 year anniversary and anything they could do for us would be appreciated. :) Well, in January, Old Lahaina Lūʻau took us up on that; they contacted us and recommended we take part in a Hawaiian vow renewal ceremony.

Have our vows renewed in Hawai'i?!?

Heck yeah!

And thus we arrived at the Old Lahaina Lūʻau early on Valentine's Day, and with approximately 20 other people renewed our vows in the most Hawaiian of ways, with a conch shell, a white lei, and a professional photo. Afterward, we celebrated at the lūʻau with a grand feast and hula dancers to accompany us. It was quite the event!

W - World War II memorials

Along with visiting the USS Arizona Memorial, which was a must for us, we visited a submarine also located on the property getting an in-depth look at what it was like for men at war on the submarine in the 1940s. Then, at the end of the day, we went back to our hotel, The Royal Hawaiian, where, as it turns out, these submarine men also stayed during their time off.

It is absolutely astounding how much World War II memorabilia and history is located on the island of O'ahu. In some ways, it's almost like stepping back in time and seeing the world as it was.

X - excited

While I have to say that at first, I wasn't the most excited about exploring Hawai'i due to the weather, I found far more beauty and history than I could have ever possibly imagined. No, Hawai'i was not like any place I had ever traveled to before, and this made me glad. There is something so beautiful about exploring the unknown, expecting to dislike it, and, in the end, falling in love instead. ❤️

Y - youthful

Hawai'i is known for it's warm, tropical days and healthful living. You can't help but feel youthful when you come to visit – like anything is possible!

Z - "living" zoo

All over Hawai'i, you will find various animals wandering the streets. Before we had left O'ahu on our last day, we had seen swans, turtles, (endangered) nene geese, chicks and their mothers, flamingos, turtles, cows, horses, goats, and whales all without setting foot in a zoo! Exploring Hawai'i is truly an immersive experience and one in which you don't need a whole lot of money to have fun! (Though resorts do cost a pretty penny!)

After experiencing such a wonderful vacation in Hawai'i, I do believe I am ready to return. What was your favorite part of my A-Z list? What would be a must see or do if you were to go to Hawai'i?

*Linking up to MummyTravels & WanderMum for #CityTripping.

Blog Love & Role Models

One of my favorite aspects of blogging is learning to see the world through other's eyes. I especially enjoy gaining tidbits of insight both through the comments on my own blog as well as in the blog posts from others. Today's #LoveBlog2017 topic being "role models", I thought I'd share a few of the blogs I've learned the most from over the past few years:

If you ever need a pick-me-up or need to hear that your concerns and worries aren't unfounded, go here. Brandon Stanton goes around New York City (and the world) photographing people and telling their powerful, emotion-filled stories about love, life, loss, and so much more. Some break your heart while others bring you joy beyond comparison. Either way, you won't leave his blog unchanged.

I am a photography nerd. I love learning more about how to develop my skills and art, but I don't always love paying for it. Luckily, Phlearn offers tips and tricks in their blog so that I can learn a little bit at a time, as I want to learn it, without it costing an arm and leg in the hope that I haven't learned the thing before. Check it out if you are as much into photography as me! :)

She hasn't posted in a while, but every time she does post I learn something new – how to write better, how to pronounce certain words, tips and tricks for remembering grammar rules. Whatever you need to know about writing, she's probably posted about it before; just make your way over to her website and try a search. You are bound to come away with new and helpful knowledge!

When I was planning my trip to Hawaii, I stumbled across this site. And then read and read and read… all night! The images are beautiful and the information is useful. If you are planning a trip to Hawaii, and more specifically have Oahu in your sights, be sure to check out Exploration Hawaii for great tips on which restaurants to eat and awesome hikes that will fill your days with beauty. Trust me, you don't want to skip this.

If you are struggling to learn a language like I am (or become more informed about a particular culture), there is probably a blog out there for you. For me, one of those blogs is German is Easy. To be totally straight forward with you all, I suck at following this blog as intently as I would like. And for that matter, I suck at practically everything having to do with language learning. I'd love to be fluent in German, but the practicing can get overwhelming … and I'm not a quick learner. But, even if I'm not the best at practicing my language skills, I am super grateful for blog writers that break down a language and make it easier to understand. Even if I only pick up on or remember one word from every five posts, that is still one more word that I wouldn't know otherwise. And the way German is Easy breaks down the meaning of a word allows you to learn some of the many nuances that may differentiate that word from any word you will have to compare it to in English.

So, if you are learning German, check this site out.

If you are learning a different language that is not German, do a google search and see if you can find a similar site to follow along with. I promise that it will make all of the difference! :)

P.S. German is not easy. In fact, it is hard. :-/

Even though this is only a few of the hundreds of blogs I follow and comment on, I hope that they will be of use to you or encourage you to find and utilize similar types of blogs for helpful information regarding the topics that most interest you.

Now that you know of a few sites I use to learn from, share with me some of the websites you use! Are there any that you find particularly helpful and can't imagine living without?

Wordless Wednesday #6

New York City wasn't my first vacation nor did I have my family with me the first time I went. No, my trip to New York City was with my high school orchestra class. We were suppose to take our instruments and play at Radio City Music Hall. (And what a story that would have been!) But alas, that didn't come to pass. Radio City Music Hall, unsurprisingly, pulled that opportunity from us and we ended up visiting New York City for purely leisure purposes. (It's probably a good thing, because I had no idea how short little me was going to carry a suitcase and a cello through the airport! – One of those times when it's better to be in chorus, so that you only have to carry yourself as your instrument!)

Anyway, I remember being torn about going. My best friend wouldn't be, and I didn't want to be "alone". Luckily, it was a great opportunity for me to branch out of my comfort zone and meet new people – my classmates, essentially.

I'd love to say that we all are still close friends, but that just didn't come to pass. A trip like this brings you close for a while, but eventually everyone goes their own separate ways.

I think the key lesson I took from this trip is that I don't need to cling to friends and family when I travel. I can have a great experience even if I don't know anyone I'm going with – even if I go alone! It's all about attitude. If you decide to have a great time, you will.

What was the first meaningful travel experience you ever had? Was it the place that made the experience or something inside you? Would you ever return to that place?

* I'm participating in #LoveBlog2017. Today's prompt: Travel. (How fitting!) Come join in and share your travel experiences (first or last or anything in between!) with the world (or the link-up, whichever)!

Upon Returning From A Vacation…

Traveling brings out a mixture of emotions –

One: You are happy to have gone but sad to return. Real life can suck. It's even worse when you are traveling to see friends or family and you wonder, after leaving them, will I ever see them again? (Or maybe I'm just super pessimistic and always fear the worst?) Of course, I also wonder if I will ever visit a place again. Even the places I dislike, I still hope to someday return to and have a better experience at.

Two: Sleeping in your own bed after travel is always nice. Your pillow(s), your blanket, access to the fridge in the middle of the night… Books, movies, internet, your dog, your car, your couch, your family, your language, and customs… You might miss things about travel, but it's always nice to have the familiar upon return.

Three: Happiness in sharing your experiences with those you love. Justin and I brought back so many souvenirs to share wth our friends and family. We gave my mom fancy, expensive toiletries from our hotels. We have macadamia nuts, coffee, salt, sugar, honey, chocolate, banana bread, wine, rum, "donkey balls", banana bread, and lavender spices for eating… Plus stories and recipes.

Even though travel can be a whirlwind experience with ups, downs, and everything in between, we always find a way to continue the trip long after it ends.

Do you celebrate upon returning from vacation by sharing your discoveries with family and friends? What types of souvenirs do you bring home with you?

• Participating in #LoveBlog2017. Join in! Today's topic: celebration.

Collecting Wisdom: 8 Books I've Read to Prep for Vacations in the Past Few Months

Recently I've taken up travel planning with more than just the internet; I've been using books as well. This is new for me, because in the past I've just incessantly searched online. This all changed when Justin and I were on the Blue Ridge Parkway, and we had no idea which sites to stop and see. I had an online guide, but it didn't really show me what I would be missing if I didn't stop, and it didn't direct me as to which sites might take extra time compared to others. Plus, the internet was slow… Then, when we were planning Montreal and Quebec City, I needed to be able to research without the internet at all on Amtrak, so we purchased two guidebooks. From there, I started marking up maps (that came with the guidebooks) which ended up being incredibly helpful to us. So, here I am doing the same thing for Hawaii.

While the internet is an invaluable research, travel guides have provided me with even more resource to take my trips from amazing to magnificent!

1. The Photographer's Guide to the Blue Ridge Parkway by Jim Hargan (buy)

2. Michelin Green Guide: Montreal & Quebec City (buy)

3. Frommer's Montreal Day-By-Day by Leslie Brokaw (buy)

4. Maui Revealed by Anthony Doughty (buy)

5. Oahu Revealed by Anthony Doughty (buy)

6. Frommer's Maui Day-By-Day by Jeanette Foster (buy)

7. Frommer's Oahu & Honolulu Day-By-Day by Jeanette Foster (buy)

8. Driving & Discovering Hawaii: Maui and Molokai by Richard Sullivan (buy)

How do you obtain "wisdom" before traveling? … Or do you even bother?

Wordless Wednesday #5

Last summer I had the opportunity to visit Brittany, France and explore with a few close friends. Even though we may have several thousand miles between my husband, myself, and our friends, we still enjoyed making time to visit and travel with them.

Do you have friends in far off places? What do you do to make sure you stay connected?

* Linking up to Love Blog 2017. Today's topic: Distance.
** In other news, I am out of town this week! In Hawaii, to be specific. It may take a day or two for me to respond to your comments, but I will as soon as I get back! Love to you all! :)

Traveling With Friends

Up until about a year ago, I had never traveled with just my husband. All of my previous travel experiences were with family and friends. And, honestly, I can't say that one type of travel – with family and friends vs with just my husband – is better than another. Each experience is different, each place we visit feels unique, even if we have visited that place a million times! There is always something new to see and explore! :) And one of the key differences that I love the most about, not just traveling with friends and family, but also about reading blog reviews of places is learning to see a place from another's' perspective.

Nevertheless, each time you vacation with someone new, you run into struggles. That's just how it is. You and that other person have different ideas about what you want to see and do even if you both want to visit the same location together.

For example:

1. My husband loves to eat fish. I don't.
2. I'm always up for new experiences and am willing to throw caution to the wind by not planning extensively if I don't have time. Another friend of mine: not so much. He may not plan six months in advance, but there has to be SOME plan.
3. My immediate family prefers to go, go, go, go, go on vacation. I usually need a vacation from my vacation. This took some getting used to the first time my husband vacationed with my family.

So as you can see? Differences exist when traveling with anyone other than yourself. More people, more differences.

Add a husband; go to a fish restaurant.

Travel with a particular friend when you haven't had time to make plans? Plans magically appear.

It just happens.

Now, what can you do to combat those differences? To go on vacation and still have family and friends at the end of the trip?

Let me refer to a post from 2014: the 5 C's of traveling with friends.

1. Communicate.

This is especially true if you have never traveled with this person (or these people) before.

What do you want to do at X location? What do they want to do? How much money is there to spend? What does their budget look like? Will you cook or eat out?

There are so many minuscule decisions that one makes before and during a trip that can complicate your experience if you aren't open to discussion.

Don't be that person that blows your budget in a day, because you weren't open and honest with the person you are traveling with. Don't have your expectations ruined because you weren't brave enough to say "I want to do X" and then not being able to because they have the whole vacation planned before you have even agreed to go.

2. Confirm

Just because you have talked doesn't mean everyone has reached an understanding. Ask specific questions, so that they have an opportunity to say no. Say, for example, "I'm booking this hotel on these dates for this trip. Is that ok with you? Do you want me to book your room there as well?" … Or "I intend on spending X amount a day. If you plan on doing anything beyond that or that costs more, I'm going to have to pass." This way you give the person your traveling with ample time to say "no" or "maybe we should do this (like each of you renting the same car vs. two different ones) differently than we originally planned".

No hurt feelings.

No broken expectations.

3. Compromise.

I'm sure this will be natural, but along with communicating and confirming, you ought to also be compromising.

No, this isn't a necessity, but I promise it will make your travel better. :)

Allow one person to plan one day and then you plan another. Unless it's hiking that the other person wants to do; at which point, I totally understand! :) But seriously, you will enrich yourself and may discover something new and surprising, perhaps unexpected, if you try what the people you are with want to do. If you don't try it (or at least some of the things they want to do), you'll never know if you'd have liked it.

4. Be Considerate.

Arguments happen. People get angry and their emotions take over. And that may be all it is – triggered emotions. Keep that in mind as you continue your trip with this other person. You friendship/relationship can survive if you don't hold the anger and frustration against the person you are with. Vacations are exhausting, sometimes mentally and physically. Forgive and forget. Be kind. Assume the best in the person you are with. Most likely, the argument wasn't over anything serious (what to do, where to go, what to eat), and you can either split up for a bit (eat at different restaurants, for example) or discuss the matter later or after your vacation when you've both cooled down and can think more clearly.

Of course, under the "considerate" heading I would also argue for kindness. Treat the person or people you are with, with respect. Treat them like you would want to be treated.

5. Celebrate!

You're on vacation, duh!

So, thoughts? Is there anything I missed that you think is important with regards to traveling with friends and family? Do you prefer to travel with others or are you more of a lone wolf?

* I'm participating in #LoveBlog2017. Today's topic: Friends.

Images from the Women's March on Washington D.C.

You say you want a revolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world
You tell me that it's evolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world

But when you talk about destruction
Don't you know that you can count me out
Don't you know it's gonna be
All right, all right, all right

You say you got a real solution
Well, you know
We'd all love to see the plan
You ask me for a contribution
Well, you know
We're doing what we can

But if you want money for people with minds that hate
All I can tell is brother you have to wait
Don't you know it's gonna be
All right, all right, all right

You say you'll change the constitution
Well, you know
We all want to change your head
You tell me it's the institution
Well, you know
You better free your mind instead

But if you go carrying pictures of chairman Mao
You ain't going to make it with anyone anyhow
Don't you know it's gonna be
All right, all right, all right
All right, all right, all right
All right, all right, all right
All right, all right

Build bridges not walls!

There has been an awful lot of hate being spewed across the media. I just want to remind people to keep fighting for what they believe in, even if it's not women's rights/Muslim rights/environmental concerns or anything else that has been protested for (or against) in the past three weeks. Keep fighting for your friends and family. Fight cancer and aids. Fight poverty. Fight homelessness. Just manage to get your kids to school today. :) Donate and help where you can. But most of all – love.

Love your neighbors, your friends, your family, your community, the world.

We all want to change the world. :)

What are you doing about that?

* Participating in #LoveBlog2017. Today's prompt: Service. Come join in!

Wordless Wednesday #4

"I have a wish for world peace and the truth. I would like to see a society that will bring happiness to all life forms." – Nina Hagen

What's on your mind today? Are you having a good week so far?

Letting Go

This memorial is a reminder of one of the biggest losses in US history.

Sometimes loss is more about letting go than anything else. Letting go of what we can't control and embracing change where we can. But sometimes we have to fight the change, or resist, when we don't agree with something.

I've said this before, but I'll say it again: the reason my blog has been quiet lately is purely political in nature. I have been busy fighting for rights – human rights, animal rights, environmental concerns. As an individual with Muslim and Middle Eastern friends, I felt I must be involved when the president introduced his Middle Eastern ban (among other things). And maybe not everyone agrees that this "war" is mine to wage; however, that is no one's choice but my own to make.

The other reason I've been quiet is that I've been working on and developing my vacation plan for Hawaii. As it turns out, when you are protesting all weekend (every weekend), sick during the week (like legit sick – taking medicine sick), and intensely planning a trip to Hawaii (that I will, eventually, intensely blog about), days, hours, and moments quickly disappear.

I guess it's another type of loss – a loss of time.

But is it really?

I have spent hours researching and meticulously planning every aspect of this trip to Hawaii ever since I booked our flight in September. I have put countless hours into planning and spent more time working out the details of this trip than I have on any other vacation I have ever taken in my entire life. And yet, if I learned anything from the ten hours I spent on Amtrak this past winter planning my trip to Quebec City and Montreal, it will all be worth it in the end. With so much in depth research, my hope is that no longer will I feel the desperate need to return to a place simply because I couldn't fit everything into my itinerary. In fact, I have begun mapping out every activity, considering the best routes and traffic, and scraping any ideas that don't fit neatly into my timeline. By doing this, my husband and I will have more time to enjoy those activities that do fit.

And so, with that said, I present to you my itinerary, noting that I am receiving four more guide books before we go which may or may not alter it:

Day 0 –
• Flight from ATL to LAX to OGG
• First night at Kula Lodge

We're arriving late, so we probably won't do much aside from sleep. :)

Day 1 –
• Drive to the summit of Haleakala National Park for sunrise.
• Return to Kula Lodge for breakfast
• Check out the view from the Ali’i Kula Lavender fields.
• Then walk through Maui Tropical Plantation
• Lunch reservations for The Mill House (food provided by local farmers)
• End the day at the Hilton Grand Wailea
• Dinner reservations at Humuhumu (the hotel's restaurant)

Day 2 –
• Taking a tour of the entire Hana Highway (front and back)with a tour guide
• Ice cream in a coconut shell at Coconut Glen's!
• Ending the evening with a beer from the Maui Brewing Company (they are open until 10PM!)

Day 3 –
• Free breakfast at the Hilton Grand Wailea
• a visit to the Maui Ocean Center (aquarium)
• Then onwards to check in at the Hyatt Regency Maui
• Wedding vow renewal (5 years!) at the Old Lahaina Luau
• Then, of course, partying it up at the Old Lahaina Luau

Day 4 –
• Exploring the northwest corner of Maui (Nakalele Blowhole) for sunrise
• Returning our rental car and checking out Banyan Tree Park
• Shaved ice at Ululani's?
• Midday, we board the Expedition ferry to Lana'i where we will meet up with our tour guide.
• Dinner at Lana'i Grill.
• Finally sleep! At the Dreams Come True Inn.

Day 5 –
• Early flight to Molokai
• Checking out Coconut Grove (from a distance!)
• Making leis at the Molokai Plumeria Farm
• Eating delicious bread from Kanemitsu Bakery
• And just getting the overall island experience
• Ending with an early evening flight to HNL
• Dinner somewhere maybe?
• Check in at The Royal Hawaiian before calling it a "night"

Day 6 –
• First stop: USS Arizona and Pearl Harbor
• Then, on to the Punchbowl memorial
• And maybe Iolani Palace (was the queen of Hawaii's home until the 1950s)
• See the view from both the Pali & Tantalus Lookouts
• Dinner reservations at Sarento's Top of the "I" (but we may have to cancel. So many things I want to see and do!)
• Watch the Hilton Village Waikiki fireworks
• And, finally, drinks and dessert at Bali Steak & Seafood (We have a $15 credit.)

Day 7 –
• Sunrise at Halona Blowhole
• Breakfast at Orchids
• Take in beautiful beach views
• Daydream at the Byodo-In Temple
• Taste different flavors of macadamia nuts at the Tropical Farms
• Imagine life in a movie at the Kualoa Ranch
• Check-in to the Turtle Bay Resort
• Buy donuts (malasada?) from Ted's Bakery

Day 8 –
• See huge waves at the Banzai Pipeline (Because winter.)
• Get a dole whip from the Dole Plantation (I can't go to Hawaii and not get one!)
• Sadly, board flight for home (I think I could easily fill another week with activities! Vacations always end far too soon!)

What are your thoughts on "letting go" and choosing to make room in your life for better or different things? Even if you haven't felt the need to speak up after an election or meticulously plan a vacation, has there ever been a time in your life when change seemed inevitable but ended up benefiting you in the long-run? And, if you've ever been to Hawaii, do you have any suggestions/recommendations or alterations that you would suggest I make to my itinerary?

* I'm taking part in #LoveBlog2017. Feel free to join in!
•• And linking up to #CityTripping.

Crushing on Travel: Top 10 Places

The past two weeks have been crazy in the US as we deal with a new president, and I am not above the emotional rollercoaster that has caused. However, given that it is a new month, I will be striving to follow along with Love Blog 2017, sharing positive experiences in my life related to travel … and not. Feel free to follow along, join in, or share your own "love" experiences. :)

1. Santorini, Greece

2. French Riviera, France

3. London, England

4. Juneau, Alaska

5. New Orleans, Louisiana

6. Berlin, Germany

7. Amsterdam, Netherlands

8. Niagara Falls, Canada or US

9. Amalfi Coast, Italy

10. New Zealand

What are some places on your top 10 list?

P.S. My top ten list is not in order of preference. :) I'd be happy to visit any of these places whenever I am given the opportunity!

* Linking up to #CityTripping hosted by Mummytravels.com and Wandermum.co.uk